Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Have you ever read a book and found yourself completely distracted by an author’s overuse of the same word(s)? Hopefully not. Hopefully those little darlings were caught and thrown out by good editors and/or great crit partners long before the book hit the shelves. But I’d be willing to bet they were there… at some point.

It would be nearly impossible for writers—people who absolutely looove words—not to have a few favorites, right? Here are a few of mine, as pointed out by my awesome crit partners: suddenly, finally, blurted, sputtered, screeched (oh yeah, and... ellipses).

On the flip side, of course, are words people simply can’t stand. Maybe it’s the way the word feels rolling off the tongue. Perhaps it brings back painful/scary/horrid/heartbreaking memories. Or maybe there’s no good reason, except that it bugs you. One member of our crit group has an aversion to the word “gasped.” It makes her laugh every time she reads it. The result is that now none of us can read that word without thinking of her and erupting into giggles :)

So let’s hear it… are there any words that you love? Or overuse in your writing? Or hate to see in print?


Julia @ That Hapa Chick said...

I always overuse "Amazing" "Awesome" and "Intriguing" when I'm writing blog stuff. And I tend to overuse the word creeper in my everyday life... Haha. XD

Julia @ That Hapa Chick

Elissa J. Hoole said...

the word groin, when it is not relating to an injury. ESPECIALLY if the scene is meant to be sexy. (and omg, I was just reading a book that contained a scene meant to be sexy and used the phrase "moist groin". GAH ACK NO.

nicole said...

i find it's repeated phrases:

'looking deep in his eyes' or 'saw his soul in his eyes'... basically anything to do with the eyes and i'm against it. it's been done, move on.

KelliumSims said...

I hate the word 'womb' and there is a non-PG slag word I won't write in case there are younger people reading this, which a guy in my class uses because he knowns I think it sounds gross.

I noticed once in a book the author kept writing 'regarded' about 10 times in her book.

I don't know which words I over use in my writing (my crit group haven't pointed any out to me, anyway) but I use a lot of filler in my everyday speech 'like' and 'and yeah'.

Sonje said...

No one has mentioned the use of repetitive words to me about my writing, but I noticed that I used an awful lot of "and then" in my last MS. (I took out a bunch of the "thens" in the editing process before anyone else read it.) I'm pretty careful about repetitive words. I think? As far as I know? LOL

There's an author I like quite a bit, but she tends to under-use pronouns, preferring to use a descriptive of the character, especially if two characters of the same gender are together. For instance, "The taller woman walked across the room," instead of, "She walked across the room," when it was obvious from context who was walking.

That might be more of a writing quirk than overusing a particular word, though...

Ishta Mercurio said...

The word "that" is one of those words that I tend to overuse. See? I did it again.

Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

I can't think of any examples of over-usage of a certain word, although I know there have been times when I picked up on it.

One quirk that I noticed from a series I recently read was where the author would write the word "sooo" ... as in "His eyes were sooo dreamy". And yes, that was the context of the word, basically. I was like "Are you kidding me?" It felt so immature and totally jolted me out of the story. I don't know why it couldn't have been 'so' (in italics) if the emphasis really needed to be there.

Sophia said...

During first drafts I have plenty of crutch words so there's lots of smiles and gazes and looks. At least I know where to start with my edits I guess? Also, oh my gosh at Elissa's 'moist groin' comment-- pretty sure that would have ended the sexy times for me.
- Sophia.

Lydia Kang said...

There are some words that drive me crazy. "Gazed," "turned," amongst other things. Biting lips. Tasting blood. That stuff.

Erica said...

I am a definite ove, rusing of certain words in writing, especially when describing like books I like. I always epic, lovely, and fanastic WAY too much

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

If people use "really" or "like" too much, I have a huge problem with that. Those words kill me! Fab topic :)

Jennifer A said...

Ewww to "moist groin"! LOL! Awful.

I loved Twilight, but Stephenie Meyer did have some words on there that she used over and over. I think chagrined was one of them.

Great topic! I'm a new follower. I came over from the Paper Reader.

Jennifer of Little Shelf

Teddi said...

As an English-major, there are certain words that have been shoved down my throat so much that now I can't help but use them all the time. Some of them? Juxtapose, erroneous, binary, destabilize, abject, subversive, fragmentation. It has come to a point where I even use them on Facebook sometimes--now that's just pathetic.

Ingrid Palmer said...

Thanks, everyone, for all the great responses!

Nicole, I'm guilty of repeating gestures as well. In one early draft, all of my male characters were "grinning" way too much, lol. Sonje and Ashley--yes, those quirks would bug me too. Welcome to WeHeartYA, Jennifer A!

iLuvReadingTooMuch said...

Totally agree with Nicole ^, it's always about the eyes! So annoying when a book constantly repeats the same words, but I do have to say, my reviews contain "funny", "hilarious", "Fantastic" etc alot :P so mayb I'm a hypocrite? No idea.

Stephanie Mooney said...

The words I overuse change with every chapter I write. I'll just get in a mood to begin every sentence with "suddenly," then I won't do it again for another hundred pages. Some of the words can be pretty random. Like who uses "creaking" four times on one page?? I guess I do.

Anonymous said...

I just started reading Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" and I've noticed he's used "terra firma" about 4 times in the first 100 pages. I could understand if it was in a scientific context, said by the same charactor, or referring to the same thing, but it's used at random by different characters as if it's a commonly used term. It feels almost like he's going out of his way to use it to sound witty. Likely it was a word stuck in his head while he wrote.

We Heart YA said...

@Stephanie and Anonymous-
Yeah, haha, we do see that sometimes, both in our own writing and in our reading, when authors clearly go on a "spree" with a certain word or phrase. A good crit group or editor will help fix that, though! ;)

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